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Dhanaraj Thakur and J. Adam Holbrook

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J. Adam Holbrook

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Marina van Geenhuizen and J. Adam Holbrook

This chapter summarizes the important findings of the previous chapters and identifies the different challenges in leadership roles of cities with regard to enhancing sustainability transitions. Accordingly, the discussion focuses on challenges in responding to favourable localized assets that are inherited, from nature or from past developments, and challenges in active city policies that connect and enhance seedbed functions, cluster formation/strengthening and bottom-up initiatives. Specific attention is given to the key condition of attracting and retaining talent, in other words a highly skilled and diverse workforce. The chapter closes with a discussion of factors that will enhance city leadership (in the future) and indicates a few important directions of future research.

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Marina van Geenhuizen, J. Adam Holbrook and Mozhdeh Taheri

This chapter presents the theme, theoretical approaches and overview of the chapters in the book. The theme is the contribution of cities (their actors) to increased sustainability in social-technical systems, eventually by accelerating sustainability improvements. The selected systems are energy, transport and healthcare. Cities may act as the cradle of key inventions, as places of up-scaling and commercialization and as places of quick adoption, though few individual cities take up all these roles. Next, several urban innovation theories are introduced, including agglomeration and cluster theories, and the relational (collaboration) approach, with the aim to ‘position’ the chapters. Specific attention is given to the entrepreneurial ecosystem approach. Complementary approaches are institutional and governance perspectives, in particular with respect to cities acting as institutional innovators. A final approach is the evolutionary approach, as invention, up-scaling, commercialization and adoption of new technology are concerned with long time-lines and manifold uncertainties.

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Claudia Díaz-Peréz, Brian Wixted and J. Adam Holbrook

This chapter investigates the unique development of Vancouver’s fuel cell cluster, going back to the early 1980s. At that time, important national research and development programmes were launched and local pioneering firms acted as technology change agents. Vancouver developed a leadership position due to favourable living conditions and the importance attached worldwide to fuel cell technology and hydrogen, including considerable funding from the Canadian government and European car manufacturers. However, two conditions started to weaken the pre-commercial cluster, namely, competition from battery-electrical and hybrid vehicles, and a lack of fuelling infrastructure. Once support by the national government dwindled, the Vancouver cluster seemed not able to grow independently and reach maturity. Thus, the attractiveness of local conditions could not overcome basic competition between and among technologies. However, while the cluster is shrinking, car manufacturers are still investing and releasing prototypes, and new local initiatives building on existing leading edge technology are also being undertaken.

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Cities and Sustainable Technology Transitions

Leadership, Innovation and Adoption

Edited by Marina van Geenhuizen, J. Adam Holbrook and Mozhdeh Taheri

This enlightening book elucidates the leadership challenges of various cities in emerging transitions towards higher levels of sustainability. It examines elements of three socio-technical systems, energy, transport and healthcare, while addressing technology invention, commercialization, mass-production and adoption. The book breaks new ground in the analysis of topical issues such as local ‘cradle’ conditions, incentive schemes, niche-development, living labs, impact bonds, grass-roots intermediation and adaptive policy making. It offers a broad coverage of global systems of cities, with a particular focus on Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, China, Korea, Japan, the US and Canada.